Symptoms, Triggers

Clouds Roll In, Migranie Ratchets Up

Clouds, not barometric pressure or weather changes, seem to make my pain and other migraine symptoms worse. It doesn’t track with conventional wisdom on weather triggers for migraine, but the correlation couldn’t be more obvious for me.

These past two weeks in Seattle have been marvelously illustrative. I’ve felt best on the few totally clear days. More common is a solidly overcast¬† morning sky with clouds that burn off in the early afternoon. I feel worse when there are clouds and better when they clear. Period.

I wake up in the morning and know it is overcast based on how my head feels (I’m sleeping in a basement, so I don’t have the light as an obvious clue). The pain starts to let up and I look outside to discover the clouds are clearing. Within an hour of the clouds clearly completely, I’m back to my baseline pain or just above it and have more energy and less brain fog. The same is true when the morning starts out clear and clouds roll in later in the day.

My mood and food cravings also track with the clouds and my pain levels. I feel generalized depression (rather than sad about a specific event or thought), have free-floating anxiety, and worry more; I also crave sugar and carbs. I’m guessing these are symptoms that kick into gear when the migraine is more severe. They are definitely symptoms I experienced regularly when my migraines were more severe on a daily basis than they’ve been in the last year. While I’m well aware of seasonal affective depression, I understand it to be a longer term phenomenon than just a cloudy few hours.

One day last week did fit the belief that weather and/or pressure changes trigger migraine attacks. A thunderstorm, a rare event for the Seattle-area, brought a level 6 migraine, the worst mine get these days (knock on wood). WeatherSpark tells me there was also a dip in barometric pressure that day. Otherwise, the barometric pressure variations have been minimal and the migraines, while annoying and moderately painful, haven’t been too disruptive.

It seems weird that clouds could have such an impact, but I’ve been practicing listening to my body and tracking very carefully. I have no doubt there’s a correlation for me. Anyone have enough atmospheric science knowledge to speculate a connection? Anyone else experience this seemingly odd phenomenon?


Gusty, 100% Chance of Rain

Seattle’s weather matches my headaches today. Wind gusts challenge the trees. They’re holding up so far, but I’m sure many plants won’t make it through the day. Just like I won’t make it through the day without the severe pain I’ve felt intermittently all morning taking me down.

A 100% chance of rain is a given with daily headaches. Some days I’m blessed with a drizzle of pain. Others a bad migraine is sure to strike.

Today’s unlike Seattle’s usual pattern. The secret that Seattleites don’t want others to know is that it does rain every day, but normally it’s a drizzle. The past couple weeks have brought heavy rains and flooding.

I’d love for my headache patterns to match typical Seattle rains. The last two months I’ve had little reprieve from daily deluges.

Beyond the metaphorical, the two are often connected. I’m not sure about other headache types, but studies have shown that weather is a migraine trigger. The biggest culprits: A combination of high or low temperatures and humidity, major changes over one or two days, high or low air pressure, changes in air pressure.

While you can’t control the weather, you can minimize its impact by checking forecasts and reducing or avoiding controllable triggers (stress, too little sleep, skipping meals, etc.) when weather conditions look bad.

At least that’s what all the articles and websites say. I’ve never tracked it and have no relevant anecdotes. All I know is that I don’t want to be imprisoned by another ungovernable variable.

Coping, Favorites

Hope and Headache Clouds

I’ve been thinking a lot about the question that I posed on Monday: How would you represent hope visually? It’s a tough one. I’ve looked at the pink blossoms of the cherry trees and the bulbs that are starting to sprout. I’ve admired our amazingly sunny days and the promise that when the rain returns, it will bring even more flowers. These are all unmistakable symbols of hope, but still don’t capture my experience.

When I stopped looking so hard for it, the answer was obvious: clouds. After living in Seattle for a year, I realized that one of the ways I cope with all the rain is to notice the ever-changing clouds. Their colors, density and position in the sky take dramatic shifts throughout each day. Unless the sky is a uniform gray, there’s always something to admire.

Like the clouds, sometimes my pain is light; other times it is unbearable and accompanied by a host of other symptoms. The changes occur from day to day, but also from hour to hour. Even on these days, I catch glimpses of blue sky; there’s always something to be thankful for, something to enjoy.

Plenty of my days are perfectly described by the dense, dark gray overhead. I’ve become grateful for the variations in my headache clouds. They give me hope that headaches won’t destroy my joy. Even if I have a headache every day of the rest of my life, the subtle changes within a day make me appreciate every moment I have.

(P.S. My questions wasn’t rhetorical, but I know the answer isn’t easy to find. If you have any thoughts about your own or some general symbols of hope, please share them in the comments. Other readers and I value what you have to share.)